Climate change is hard to imagine, especially 60 years into the future. With this in mind, environmental scientists have developed a web application that can tell people living in one of the 540 cities in Canada or the continental United States how their home will be changed by 2080 – and which modern city is most likely to commemorate.
Using 27 different climate models, researchers focused on 12 different aspects of the climate – including maximum and minimum temperatures, precipitation and how these factors vary by period – for each location within two scenarios: one in which atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) is increasing from 410 parts per million (ppm) today to approximately 650 ppm in 2100 and the other in which CO2 levels rise to about 1370 ppm. Then they compared the planned data points from each city with the climate they are currently experiencing.
In the lower emission scenario, about 70% of cities have a "future climate sister city", but they are typically hundreds of miles away and south, researchers report today Natural communications. For example, residents of Washington, D.C., can expect a climate in the 2080s, which resembles the current climate in Paragould, Arkansas, about 132 miles northwest of Memphis, Tennessee. Meanwhile, people in Anchorage, Alaska, can experience the same climate as today's Owen Sound, Canada, about 160 miles northwest of Toronto.
But in the high emission scenario, only 17% of the sites will have such sister cities; an incredible 83% will have a future combination of temperature and precipitation, unlike anything in the western hemisphere north of the equator, scientists note.
Do you feel a bit hot under the collar? To find out what climate in your city will be like in 2080, there are apps available.